Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The contents for the soundtrack to the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Road," were likely chosen quite a while ago, long before the Irvine, Calif., band Thrice released its latest record late last summer. It's a real shame that such decisions needed to be made prior to hearing the phenomenal "Beggars," a record that is chock-full of songs that strip the meat from bones, affection from cursed hearts, heat and passion from abandoned lips, life from eyes and hope from tested souls. It's a world that lead singer Dustin Kensrue and the rest of his bandmates have made to reflect the pre-post-apocalyptic landscape that could have led to the barren, depressing and frightening one that McCarthy wrote into color with such plain, but poignant language. There's deadness and blankness in the fires of the pupils of the eyes as they survey a land that's been ravaged by the very awesome and sad capacity for destruction, hate and hurt that we humans are burdened with. We have more than enough of that stuff to wipe ourselves out twenty times over and then some. There's nothing to say that this pre-post-apocalyptic flash isn't the one that we're looking at right now, the one that's trudging guiltily by us outside the windows, streamed into our living rooms by the television waves that are just doing their job of keeping us connected. In this setting - one that moans lowly and is pitched in a bleak sort of afterglow -- there's nothing for anyone but the words that come out of their mouths, the little touch that they can find in places few and far between and the dirty, torn up clothing that they let rest over their sunken spirits. Thrice, which has been around and making great records for well over a decade, has reinvented itself on "Beggars," giving us this perspective of despair and a gritty sound that's more in line with the Delta Spirits, Felice Brothers, Cold War Kids and other neo-soul, blues bands that have been cropping up in recent years and less like the brethren of tattooed, emo-core bands that they rose up with way back when. Kensrue sounds as if he has blood in his throat as he sings the title track from the new album, as well as "All The World Is Mad," and there's a feeling that he believes this sad truth with all of his being, as if he's resigned to embrace this ugliness. It's as if there are empty hearts and glazed eyes just wandering the streets, punching their cards, eating any emotions that they might have normally had and just playing it out until the moving pictures just drop off from the edge and nothingness takes over completely. The scenery and all of the disgraced humanity just spits in these songs, they have lost any will to ache too much, just a little as if it's all too little too late. Kensrue sings about progress not matching the visions in our heads, left with the fudged and smeary muck that can't be undone. There are spirits throughout these songs that are beautifully rendered and given to us under porch lights, low lights of faint summer evenings, left out in the night when no one else is there to care for them. It's as if these spirits have been chewed from their warm homes and they've been thrown out into the winter night, doomed to a certain frozen death in just a short matter of time. It's as if we are witnessing the end of it all and the breathing is becoming thinner, we're not capable of cracking our eyes open much more and we're just seeing what's gonna happen next. It couldn't be much worse. Kensrue sings, "All things hang as if by string. If there's one thing I know in this life, we are beggars all," but all the begging in the world isn't going to fix a thing at this point. The seas are stormy forever from now on.
Thrice Official Site